The high precision of the ELC 160 surprises many experts and is often considered superfluous. By now though, its advantages are becoming apparent, says Andreas Mootz.
Over the past few years, the EMAG ELC 160 has established itself as the “industry standard” for laser beam welding of precision vehicle components. Most of the dual-clutch or automatic transmissions introduced on the market now also include components manufactured on an ELC 160. Steering components and an increasing number of parts for electric vehicles, such as electrified axles, are also manufactured on the ELC 160.
The ELC 160 was designed from the outset as a production machine for serial manufacturing. Its kinematics - fixed machining position/moving workpiece - is the perfect basis for a precise and, above all, robust production solution. The ELC 160 is easy to automate and, owing to its modularity, offers the perfect platform for creating manufacturing solutions even for complex processes.
In addition to the laser welding “core process”, it also includes integrated joining with force-displacement monitoring (EMAG EC Join) and inductive pre-heating of workpieces (eg for high carbon equivalent materials or unfavorable structural properties) using induction technology from the EMAG affiliate EMAG eldec Induction GmbH.
A further patented highlight of the ELC 160 is its ability to retool automatically, ie controlled by the NC program. On the ELC 160, several devices can be set up in advance and then loaded “at the touch of a button”. This relieves the operator and reduces the retooling time to just a few seconds. However, what is much more important is that the destructive testing of a sample workpiece, which would be required after a manual retooling procedure, can be dispensed with. As a result, post-tooling idle times are avoided, which is particularly favorable for small batch sizes and thus maximises efficiency. This applies all the way down to flexible manufacturing in a “one-piece flow”.
The machine is equipped with a newly developed welding head suspension (B/Z-axis), which enables the welding of workpieces with an axial or radial weld seam position (or at any angle in between), the angle being configurable in the NC. This further increases the ELC 160’s flexibility.
The high precision of the ELC 160 surprises many “experts” and is often considered superfluous. By now though, its advantages are becoming apparent: Many developments in the field of laser technology in recent years were aimed at improving weld seam quality, minimising spatter formation and reducing heat influx into the component and thus warpage, by increasing the welding speed.
All these developments taken together show that today’s requirements in terms of welding system precision are in line with those of a precision machine tool. This is where EMAG’s know-how in developing machine tools and also the EMAG Group’s competence when it comes to workpiece clamping produce their full effect.
The EMAG Group not only offers highly productive manufacturing solutions for precision metal parts, but also supports its customers, eg, in developing their processes and optimising their components: Not only are laser application labs maintained at the headquarters of EMAG Automation GmbH in Heubach, Germany, but also in North America (Farmington Hills, MI) and in China (Taicang). These are superbly equipped with machine technology and, above all, staffed with experienced employees who more often than not quickly reach the required results.
About the Author:
Andreas Mootz is the Managing Director of EMAG Automation GmbH. For details, contact Markus Isgro on email: firstname.lastname@example.org